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Data Infringement and Theft Leave Air India’s 4.5 Million Customers Helpless

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A sudden data breach of the Air India Passenger Service System provider SITA in February 2021 exposed the personal information of around 4.5 million customers.

Earlier Indian national carrier and now part of its original company, Tata Group, reported the first cyber-attack on SITA to passengers on March 19.

According to the statement of Air India after the reported cyber attack, “We inform that SITA PSS, our data processor of the passenger service system that controls storing and processing of personal information of passengers has been compromised due to a cybersecurity attack and has put the personal details of various passengers at risk.” Further, this attack made around 4,500,000 people vulnerable to data breaches and safety. The airline also reported that the attack affected the passenger data of people that were registered from August 2011 to February 2021.  

But a further investigation of this data breach incident brought a sigh of relief for affected passengers as credit card information or password details was not compromised in any manner. However, to maintain your data security and confidentiality, Air India has urged its passengers to change their credentials to prevent any further attempts of cyber attacks and data theft.         

The executives at Air India said the cyberattack was done on the personal data of passengers during the duration of 26th August 2011 to 3rd February 2021. The data theft consisted of details such as name, contact information, date of birth, ticket information, passport details, Air India frequent flyer data and Star Alliance. It has been found that no password details and credit card data were affected in any way. This can be attributed to the fact that the data processor of Air India does not store the crucial card details such as CVV/CVC number at all.         

The cyber-attack took its toll on Star Alliance members also

The scale of the cyber attack was rampant as around a dozen plus air carriers in addition to Air India complained of getting their data compromised during a sudden data theft on SITA Passenger Service System (PSS) that handless transactions related to ticket reservations, boarding and more. Elaborating the same further, SITA acknowledged the data breach attack and informed that it reached out to affected PSS customers and related organizations in early March.             

SITA also acknowledged the incident and said that it started reaching out to victims of the PSS data breach in early March. As per an official statement by the SITA spokesperson, some of the foreign airlines that were affected by this widespread cyber-attack are as follows.     

  • Lufthansa along with its partners like Star Alliance and Miles & More partner.
  • Air New Zealand, the official airline of New Zealand. 
  • Singapore Airlines, the official carrier of Singapore. 
  • SAS also known as Scandinavian Airlines.
  • Cathay Pacific, the official carrier of Hong Kong.
  • Jeju Air, the largest and most cost-effective South Korean airline.
  • Malaysia Airlines, the official carrier of Malaysia.
  • Finnair, the largest official airline in Finland. 

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